- Series: The Ascendance Trilogy (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Scholastic Press; F First Edition, First Printing edition (April 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0545284139
- ISBN-13: 978-0545284134
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 828 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 1) Hardcover – April 1, 2012
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Question: What inspired you to write The False Prince?
Nielsen: I’d had the general idea for The False Prince for some time, but could never find the right protagonist to carry the weight of the story I wanted to tell. The central character, Sage, was found in the words of a song called Guaranteed, by the great Eddie Vedder. It said, “I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me, guaranteed.” From that line, I had the instant image of a defiant but charismatic boy who always stays a step ahead of the game, and where other players have no clue that all the rules are very quietly being rewritten.
Q: Where did Sage’s voice come from?
Nielsen: Sage came to me as a complete character, as fully developed as if he had been a real person. So writing The False Prince wasn’t really about creating him, but instead, it was the experience of discovering him as the story unfolded. There were several moments when I knew what was waiting for Sage if he didn’t back down, and yet, he never would. So I gritted my teeth and let things unfold the only way they could with him. As I work on the sequels, he continues to surprise, amuse, and shock me. He’s the most complex character I’ve ever written, and I’m always thrilled to get feedback from readers who are as fascinated by him as I am.
Q: Was the setting or any of the other characters inspired by real people or places?
Nielsen: Sage is very much his own person, and as a whole, is completely unique. However, there is one trait of his that I borrowed from a student I had when I was a high school debate teacher years ago. He was popular, brilliant, charming, and an amazingly talented thief. At the start of every ride to a tournament, he would steal the watch off of the bus driver’s wrist, then keep it for the entire trip. As he left the bus at the end, he would hand the watch back to the driver, explaining it must have fallen to the floor. Then the driver always thanked him for being such a great and honest kid. I should’ve been angry, but I never was – he just pulled off his scams that well
Q: Where do you like to go to write?
Nielsen: I’ll write anywhere. I work out scenes in my head while driving or in the shower, and pick up inspiration from events I notice each day. I try to always keep a pen and extra paper handy so that if something occurs to me I can write it down and not risk losing it (I hate it when I know there was something I thought of earlier that I had loved, but now can’t remember it!). My favorite places for actual writing aren’t very exciting. I love to write curled up on a loveseat beneath a sunny window. And nearly every night I’ll print out pages I’ve worked on in the day and edit them in bed before I fall asleep.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer? When did you first know this is what you wanted to do?
Nielsen: I’ve written for as long as I can remember, but the idea that I could turn that into a career never seemed real to me. I never knew any authors growing up, and as far as I could tell, they were mythical people who lived like the Great Gatsby on the other side of the country, or who had lived a hundred years ago. So I wrote as a hobby, then planned on other careers that real people had, such as being a detective, or working somewhere in the theater, or being a teacher.
That all changed after my oldest child was born and I stayed home to care for him. Suddenly, I had a lot more time on my hands, which I filled with reading. But it wasn’t long before the stories in my head became more interesting than the books in my hand, and I realized that I wanted to hold a book of my own. That was when I decided to seriously pursue writing as a career. It’s the perfect place for me to be now, and I can’t imagine being happier anywhere else.
This first book in a planned trilogy is action-oriented fantasy, but don’t expect magical creatures. Instead, it revolves around political intrigue (à la Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief, 1996). Sage is a street-savvy orphan, and along with two other boys he is recruited by Conner, a nobleman who wants to remake them in the image of their country’s lost prince, a victim of pirates and presumed dead. The task is urgent, as the rest of the royal family has been murdered and civil war seems imminent. As the boys, chosen for their passing resemblance to Prince Jaron, compete to assume a new identity and the throne, Sage discovers some unpleasant truths about their host, beyond his treasonous plans to pass one of them off as royalty. Sage is a likable hero full of smart-alecky snarkiness. Especially appealing are the friendships he forges: one with his bodyguard and teacher; another with a mute serving girl. Though lacking in subtlety, Nielsen’s plot twists keep coming, and readers will want to see how they play out as Sage’s adventures continue. Grades 4-7. --Karen Cruze
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So, I thought that I'd just check it out before passing it on to my daughter, but I couldn't put it down. I just finished it after reading it in one straight sitting.
The layer-upon-layer build in this book was brilliant. Every little detail felt like it was leading somewhere to something. The author used an unreliable narrator--you knew that the first person narration was hiding more than he was revealing. Every so often, you'd catch a hint of this and it would drag you breathless through more pages as you waited for the reveal that was building and building.
I thought there was no way it could live up to the internal hype I was creating. Telling me a book is like either Harry Potter or Hunger Games is dooming me to disappointment--I thought. This book delivered on this promise. I liked how it kept me guessing because I knew there was something that I didn't know...some big secret that all these smaller secrets and hints were leading to. I kept mentally guessing...and I was completely wrong and the ending blew me away.
It's not really like Harry Potter--though Sage is clever, young (14 or 15), and wonderfully imperfect and the writing is equally as brilliant.
It's not quite like Hunger Games, but it kept me reading with the same anxious anticipation. It was more hopeful and the end of this first book more satisfying. It was also significantly less violent in my opinion.
It was somewhat like Eragon with the intelligence of Ender's Game with a narration that reminded me of Odd Thomas. But, wait, it wasn't like any of them--it was just itself and it was exceptional.
Also, of note, this may be a book in a series, but this book can stand alone. The ending was enough even if I'm anxious to read another book in the series. This book felt complete and not just a portion of a series. That feels like a rare thing these days in YA books.
For Parents: there was no profanity, adult situations, or gratuitous violence. As far as violence goes, if you felt comfortable letting your child read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire--this is comparable.
He seems like an industrious young orphan on the brink of being on his own until someone shows up and makes him an offer he literally can’t turn down. It seems like Sage will be in a competition with a few other boys, the prize is initially unclear but it soon becomes apparent that to lose would be very dangerous. So Sage must learn everything he can in two weeks or possibly not make it out of this situation alive
***Master Graves was incensed and said, as punishment for my disruption, I would have to write my letters an extra ten times that day.
“Ten times the better I’ll know them, then,” I said. “How strange that you should punish me by ensuring I come out more educated than Roden, who has tried to obey you.”***
Middle Grade books are fun to read sometimes because I don’t have to put a ton of thought into them. This story is really readable. Sage and his discordant ways are easily likable and I enjoyed how he turned every obstacle into an advantage. He plays people off each other well and is as stubborn as a rock when he sets his mind on something no matter the consequences he must pay.
As an adult I guessed many of the twists that the book had coming in it. There were still a couple of surprises but not as many as there probably would have been if I was a younger reader. That didn’t stop it from being enjoyable though and I sped my way through the story very easily.
I didn’t only like Sage I also became attached to a few of the other characters like Hobb and Imogen. The friendships that Sage built with them along the way were some that I know will play out more in the upcoming books. There is a cute inkling of a romance with Imogen but it was totally age appropriate and it was refreshing to have something stay so innocent.
Even though this is a trilogy this first book wraps up nicely as a standalone. The Chapters are short so it is really good for reading aloud to your family.
Overall - If you have kids and are looking for something to read with them that won’t bore you to tears. Or if you are like me and enjoy a good fun MG fantasy every now and again with interesting characters then this should be perfect for your needs.